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Scott Allie: Interviews

22 January 2012 Leave a comment

Scott Allie – INTERVIEWS

2012:

13 Jan: Comic Book Resources – Scott Allie Talks Buffy’s Big Changes 

Rebekah Isaacs: Interviews

21 January 2012 Leave a comment

Slayalive Q&A with Scott Allie for Angel and Faith #5

3 January 2012 Leave a comment

Q&A with Scott Allie for ANGEL & FAITH #5

Hey all.
Welcome back to our Q&A sessions with Scott for ANGEL & FAITH. Everyone is free to submit ONE (1) question at a time.
As before, we’re going to limit the Q&A to a total of 30 questions this time. I’m going to collect 15 questions, and then close the session until the answers come back. I’ll then reopen the session for new questions, or follow-ups if deemed necessary.

As before, since we only have 30 slots to fill, I’d prefer that questions not be squandered on spoiler-baiting. While I understand that it’s hard to resist, I reserve the right to not include those, if spoiler-baiting seems to be the only function of the question. An example of a spoiler-baiting question would be “When will Connor show up in A&F and will he and Angel have a long and heavy talk about how Angel could be willing to leave him on a dying world while he and Buffy traipsed off into paradise?”

I’ll also be selective about clarification questions. Too often, this has become a fan exercise in demanding answers for things that are meant to be interpreted, and the material is there for that. An example of a topic done to death would be “Does Angel remember ordering the execution of the “spike” guy in “Retreat”? Can he be held accountable for the massacre on the Tibetan mountainside, pitting depowered Slayers against soldiers?” Such questions are better asked in the relevant discussion threads, as they’re provocative and discussion-worthy. These Q&As are not meant to be tools to help you prove a point.

As usual, rudeness will not be tolerated. Thank you for your interest, and I look forward to seeing your questions. I’m also accepting questions and questions about questions at wenxina[AT]slayalive.com.

1. Bamph: What do you think makes Angel heroic?

Scott: He wants to do right, he wants to help people, he wants to confront evil where he sees it, and he’ll put his life on the line to do it. He doesn’t ever mean to put himself first.

2. FangedFourLover: Whose idea was it to make Drusilla come to the “Angel and Faith” world in the next arc as opposed to “Buffy”, yours, Joss’, or Christos’?

Scott: I can’t remember. I don’t think it was Joss’s. Pretty sure it was Chris’, but it might have been mine or Sierra’s.

3. AndrewCrossett: I have a question about the “zompires” and the mechanics by which they are created. In Buffy #3, Willow says “When someone becomes a vampire, a demon possesses their dead body. But without the Seed, demons can’t pass into this world. The demon has to possess the vampire’s body from another dimension.” I took the last sentence to be Willow clarifying that the demon had to come into this world from another dimension and now couldn’t, so the zompires are simply people transformed physically into vampires, but without any demon spirit to provide intelligence and purpose… they’re just non-sentient monsters.

But a lot of people took that sentence to mean that the demon now controls the vampire body while remaining in another dimension, like remote control. This seemed to be supported by the latest issue of Angel & Faith, where Angel talks about the demon control being like “faint radio waves.” But I was under the impression that with the Seed gone, no travel or communication at all was possible between this world and other dimensions. Otherwise, I’d have thought Aluwyn would have made contact with Willow somehow by now.

So, could you clarify the real explanation behind the zompires (at least insofar as the characters understand it at this point)?

Scott: The demon has a very loose connection to the person, because the portals are all either closed or nonexistent. The mystic realms are all still there, of course, earth is still here, and so while the passageways are all messed up, Season 9 will explore ways in which the different realms remain at the very least side by side with us …
This season has also led to a lot of conversation about the metaphysics of the demon/vampire/human connection, and we have some varying theories. Joss doesn’t want it nailed down in a scientific kind of way, so we try to make sure that what we do loosely works within a few differing ideas for the metaphysics of it. We think that giving the readers something to ponder in terms of the nature of these characters is more interesting than explaining it.

4. Sosa Lola: Hi, Scott, loved the Harmony issue, so funny! In the issue, Harmony wants to start a campaign to fix Angel’s image, twisting the truth by saying that Angel was going to take the good humans to Twilight and leave the bad ones to burn. Angel says later, “But that IS what I was going to…” Was he talking about “creating a new universe and leaving the current one to burn” or “taking the good people to the new universe he created and leaving the bad ones.”?

Scott: He meant both. I want to do an issue of Angel drawn by Bob Sikoryak in the style of Charles Schulz in which Angel keeps trying to explain what he was thinking in Season 8, but Faith repeatedly pulls the football out from in front of him, and no one else will listen to him, and every page ends with him saying, “Good grief!” Twenty-two pages of that, at the end of which, still no one knows what the hell he was thinking.
Angel was manipulated into taking point on a very bad plan that he never fully understood because he never bothered to understand it, too wrapped up in the idea of doing an ultimate good deed. 

5. Vampire in Rug: So Connor is going to appear in the upcoming issues. I can’t wait! I think things might get a bit tricky for the writers regarding Connor and Faith though. Faith and Connor have met each other in season four of Angel. However, when Angel signed on with Wolfram and Hart, he altered the memories of everyone who ever met Connor so that nobody remembers him. Presumably this would include Faith. During season five, the magical box containing Connor’s old memories got smashed which shared the memories with everyone in the room: Wesley, Angel, Illyria and Connor. So Connor now has his original set of memories as well as the happy fabricated memories that Angel made for him. Faith wasn’t in the room when the box got smashed, so in short: Connor would remember meeting Faith but Faith should not remember ever meeting Connor. In “After the Fall”, W&H shared Connor’s identity with all the demons and vampires in HelL.A (to make Connor a target). But this wouldn’t affect Faith because (a) W&H didn’t share the memories with the humans of LA and (b) Faith wasn’t in Los Angeles at the time.

Having Connor knowing who Faith is but having Faith not know who Connor is kind of puts you guys in a tricky spot, right? When they meet each other in the comics, it should be the first time they have met from Faith’s point of view. Any plans on how you’re going to deal with that one? You could reintroduce them to each other in a funny/awkward way. Or you could say that after the Seed of Wonder got destroyed everyone got their original memories back, but that opens up a can of worms because then everyone who has ever met Dawn would know she’s a product of fake memories. And Connor’s adoptive parents would be pretty freaked out too if they found out their son has only been around for a few years. I guess you could say that Angel explained to Faith about Connor off-screen or off-the-pages. Have you thought about how you’re going to tackle this weird situation when Connor shows up and meets Faith (again)? Also, are there any plans to talk about the new powers IDW gave Connor? Would be neat if he still had them. Or again, you could just say that the Seed-breaking made him normal again. I must be the only person who actually liked seeing Connor on the show, so I can’t wait for him to show up again in the comics!

Scott: I’m excited to get Connor into the series, because it lets us deal with things we couldn’t get to sooner, which is this messed up relationship between father and son. As for Faith, she definitely knows who Connor is. We will skip the scene where Faith says, “Hi Connor, I know you know me, but I shouldn’t know you, except I do because your dad and I have talked about you a lot while we’ve been trying to get our shit together in Jolly Olde.” So we won’t say that Angel explained all this to Faith off-panel; we’ll just assume readers can figure that out, and that it wouldn’t be very interesting to read, not as interesting as the untangling of the relationship between father and son, especially in the wake of the Drusilla arc.

6. Morphia: Angel’s admission that it was his plan all along to take the ‘good’ people to the new world with him when he was Twilight and leave the evil people to die reminds me of when he locked the lawyers in the wine cellar with Darla and Dru in season 2. – ie. he’s playing God, choosing who gets to live and who dies. It seems to me you guys are really hammering home the message that Angel still hasn’t learned from his past mistakes. At the same time, because we’re mostly seeing him through Faith’s eyes, we don’t have much idea what’s going on in his head so we don’t really know how self-aware (or not) he really is.

My question is, was this a deliberate choice, agreed between Joss, yourself and Mr Gage, to make what’s going on with Angel more mysterious (and frustrating), or will the POV between the two title characters be swapped on a regular basis?

Scott: I think you’ve put it pretty well here, Morphia, and I don’t think he’s terribly self-aware. He’s definitely repeating old patterns, and I hope that he does learn from it this time, and that we see him move forward once and for all. Chris deals with Angel’s relative lack of self-awareness pretty nicely in the Connor arc. We continue to favor Faith’s point of view, but Angel finds more opportunity to express himself, not always perfectly well, as people confront him a bit more about his decisions.

7. Moscow Watcher: Great issue: witty, bouncy sense of humor; priceless jabs at pop culture; dialogues to frame and put on a wall. Christos Gage hit his strige here, and the issue is pure delight from the first to the last page.
Question: when you were working on the issue, especially on the panels where Harmony talks about grooming Angel’s public image, did you and Gage talk and maybe joke about parallels between Harmony’s PR team and Dark Horse team, who also has to work hard to reestablish Angel as a hero?

Thank you! Happy New Year!

Scott: Yeah, definitely to some degree. We wanted to wink and to nod at some of what’s gone on. But we’re not trying to say that Angel is a perfect hero, and you should ignore the things he’s done. That was Harmony’s idea for him, but I think the story is all about his shortcomings as a hero, and how his poor choices and his heroic aspirations come into conflict.

8. Dorotea: Do you think Harmony is right – i.e. ‘letting go’ of the past and not burdening one’s consciousness with guilt is what benefits the individual – and by extension the humanity – the most?

Scott: I think Angel could use a little letting go of the past. You gotta take responsibility for what you’ve done, trying to atone for it is good, but in this way, yeah, I think Angel could learn a little from Harmony. I think Faith has learned this already, and is better off because of it. We’ve all got regrets, we’ve made mistakes, probably none of us so much as Angel. But if you make every day be all about the things you’ve done in the past, it’s a pretty bad way to live.

9. Menomegirl: Hi, Scott. First off, I’d like to say thank you for continuing to do these Q & A’s. Secondly, I’d like to say that I’m enjoying these Angel & Faith comics quite a lot. For the first time, I feel like I’m reading a story that’s truly worthy of the Angel series itself.

My questions are: how much whitewashing of Angel’s character is there going to be? By that I mean, is everything Angel did as Twilight going to be handwaved away (the same way the bad things he did on the series were)?

Scott: I don’t think we’re trying to do that. Is that what Moscow Watcher was getting at above? I don’t read it that way, but I’m curious what readers are seeing. In my comment above, about letting go of the past—that’s not meant to be whitewashing either. Letting go a little isn’t saying it never happened, it’s just syaing that there’s more to life than what already went by. Angel can’t seem to do that. A guy who’s obsessed with redemption, with making up for his sins, who’s hated by a lot of the people around him—how is that whitewashing? Who’s saying Angel didn’t screw up? Not us. Not Faith. Certainly not Nadira, who’s meant to be a sympathetic character. When a sympathetic character views one of the protagonists as a villain, that’s not whitewashing.

10. Wenxina: Can you confirm that one of the upcoming 5-issue minis you mentioned at NYCC is going to be Willow’s story? Along those lines, can you officially state when that project will drop?

Scott: I cannot confirm that!

11. spuffyspangellover: Hey Scott! Season 9 has been incredible so far. I especially loved issues #4 of both Buffy and Angel and Faith. Which issue of Angel and Faith has been your favorite thus far?

Scott: Aww, I can’t say. Thank you, but I don’t know. I’ve been enjoying what we’re doing, I’m proud of it, I love the teams we’re working with, including the fill-in guys. But I don’t have a favorite issue at this point. Maybe when there are more completed, but right now it’s all just a blur of good times and deadline nightmares.

12. Lone Wolf: Hi, Scott. In After The Fall Wesley was last seen saying he’ll be watching over Illyria, what happened to him? Do you think he is still under contract with Wolfram & Hart or has he moved on to the spirit world? Has there been any discussion to revisit his character in someway in A&F?

Scott: I don’t want to address Wesley’s ultimate fate, but as of right now, we don’t have plans to use him this season. That could change.

13. Skytteflickan88: I’m still very confused about the Twangel deal, but figured another general “WTF was Angel thinking” question wouldn’t add to the discussion. So I’m going to ask specifically about something that’s been bothering me ever since I read it. When Buffy and Angel are still in the Twilight world, and Buffy rips open a portal and they see Xander and the others fighting against the demons, Buffy wants to go back, but Angel wants her to leave her friends to fight on their own. He actually seems to not understand why she wants to go back, almost like he doesn’t get that she can’t leave those she loves to fight for their lives. Why is that? Why does it seem like he’s forgotten what it feels like to be willing to die for those you love? Did he think they would actually be ok on their own? Did he simply not care about the outcome? Was Twilight possessing him?

Scott: Yes, he was somewhat possessed at that point, but he was also just so caught up in this mission he was committed to that it was the only thing that mattered. He believed that if he followed through on Twilight, it’d all be all right. I know some people are frustrated with the “somewhat possessed” concept, but that’s how this works. There are times when he’s outright possessed, a puppet, and others when he’s heavily influenced, and still others when it’s simply his own imperfect judgment buying into the Twilight idea and taking him down bad paths. He believed that what they were doing would bring an end to the fighting, and he believed their friends would be okay—”They’ll survive. They always do.”—but you can see his resolve breaking down in #35 as he and Buffy talk it out.

14. Menomegirl: Thank you! I’ve read both your reply to me and to Moscow Watcher; you’ve definitely given me something to think about as the series progresses.

I would like to pose a question that asks for your opinion, rather than a question about the comics, if I may.

Do you think it’s redemption that Angel’s actually seeking? Or is it absolution that he craves?

Scott: Well, if I understand the difference, I’d say he wants redemption. Absolution would just be forgiveness, and I don’t think that’s what he wants. Redemption is more objective, more of an actual feat or accomplishment, and that’s what he wants. For his current actions to cancel out his previous actions. Also, Absolution is a fine comic written by Christos Gage for another publisher.

15. zamolxis: Hello, Mr Allie and Congrats on Buffy going digital.

This came from Buffy #4, but I think it applies to both titles. We saw Buffy and Spike being sucked out of their powers with no consequence whatsoever, both remaining still slayer and vampire.

It looks like a no-limit source and probably some former witches/warlocks/demons will figure it out that magic can be extracted and start enslaving vampires, slayers or other mystical creatures for their Duracell properties (similar to exploiting the Mohra demon)

Is this correct? Did Buffy and Spike remain unaffected magically after being temporarily drained? Are we going to see magic harvesting farms?

Scott: Excellent question. We will see some people harvesting power in different ways. In terms of the Siphon, had Spike or Buffy been fully drained, it would not have been temporary.

16. Bamph: Georges suggested this type of question might be more for you in his latest Q/A. The next arc of Buffy is two issues,#6-7. Will the arc following ‘On Your Own’ be a short one or a more traditional 4-5 issue arc and will Angel & Faith have any two issues arcs coming up after,”Daddy Issues” or is it sticking to the more normal formatting of one-off and 4 or 5 issue arcs?

Scott: Arc lengths will vary, always adding up to 5-issue trades. 

17. spuffyspangellover: Scott, what do you think makes Angel(us)’s relationship with Drusilla so captivating?

Scott: She’s unrepentant, but her whole existence is one of the things Angel needs redemption for. She’s one of the worst things he’s ever done, and yet she remains one of our only unrepentant main-character vampires. There are a lot of other things I find interesting about Dru, too, and you’ll see a lot of it explored in the coming issues.

18. KingofCretins: Scott, there’s a little inconsistency so far (although reasonable, since they are different books, such things happen) between how “zompires” are depicted in “Buffy” and “Angel and Faith” — in the former, they pretty explicitly evoke zombies, brainless flesh-craving, useless eating machines. In the latter, they appear to be sort of a “mook” class of vampire, capable of following instructions and so on. Are they generally going to be more one than the other? How much intelligence would you say they have, compared to the greater fictional lexicon of zombie/alien/monster things?

Scott: I think the difference is partly in the fact that Chris writes Angel & Faith a bit like a crime book, and his criminal monsters use the zomps as thugs; in San Francisco, we’re not dealing with a structured monster class, no order or organization, so the zomps are running around like zombies. We’ll see a little more of the unorganized zomps in A&F, probably not any of the ordered zomps in Buffy. In terms of intelligence, I think they’re a little more intelligent than what we normally think of as zombies, but not much more.

19. Matrim: How is it possible for Harmony to “reform”? We had seven seasons where it was repeatedly stated that vampires can’t do that. Spike needed a chip, support from Buffy and he still had to go get a soul. And now suddenly not just Harmony but apparently tons of other vampires just decided to stop killing as if this is no big deal? Don’t you think that’s a bit inconsistent? And shouldn’t Angel, Faith, Buffy and the rest of the principal characters ask themselves how is that thing possible and what are its ramifications as far killing vampires (as opposed to refusing to kill even the vilest of humans) goes?

Scott: The vampires are following Harmony’s rules so they can get by in society. They’re getting their blood in other ways, and probably a lot of them are continuing to do it the old way, and still doing it in secret. There is a lot of conflict or the main characters in terms of what they’re supposed to do in this new world order. It’s not the total focus of the story, but it’s in there, and you’ll continue to see it come up in dialogue.

20. AndrewCrossett: Are there any plans as of yet to “check in” with any of Buffy’s close associates in the Slayer Army last season — such as Satsu, Leah, Rowena, Vi, etc.? It would be interesting to get an update on what they’re doing and how they feel about Buffy.

Scott: We’re going to see some of those girls in #11. We’re tempted to push more of them into the story, but we don’t want to force it, or cut away from the main characters.

21. Sosa Lola: Hi, Scott, I’ve seen this asked somewhere else and figured it’ll be fun to hear what you think: Xander came up with the name “zompires” in #3 of BtVS, how did Angel know about it?

Scott: Xander did coin it, and it spread virally through a certain social networking site that will go unnamed for now …

22. Moscow Watcher: Hi again, Mr.Allie,

I’m sorry if my previous question sounded like concern about the possibility of whitewashing. I asked about your awareness of certain parallels because I’m curious about the creative process, and how much fandom reactions influence the final product.

My question: on the eve of the New Year, could you tell fans what to expect in 2012? And what do you expect from us in return?

Thank you for answering our questions!

Scott: I just want to understand the notion of whitewashing, because it seems like it’s a topic among readers. I’ve gotten a few emails about it, and the word was used in someone’s questions yesterday. I’ve had emails this week saying that we’re either condemning him, trying to destroy him as a character, or whitewashing him, which I think reveals the strong perspectives in the readership. In terms of the new year … there’ll be some shocks and surprises, some fury directed at us, and some announcements about side stories that I think will be exciting. At this moment, we’re working on the collections of the first arcs, and the first hardcover collection of Season 8. So I’m gonna have an increasing stack of books I’m proud of, and we’re going to get a lot of input from readers.

23. Dorotea: I would like to ask about Whistler and his role in S9, besides being the most irrelevant and badly dressed Big Bad the verse had ever known. With him being stuck in England – are we to assume that his fixation on ‘setting things straight’ with Angel is his personal obsession, or is this more of a general ‘juctice always finds its mark’ thing? I mean – he used to be a prominent figure in BtVS verse, why is he currently only concerned with Angel’s end of things, when it was really Buffy who ended Twilight?

Scott: Whistler has a complicated agenda that’ll be revealed over time. But I think he’s always been more interested in Angel than Buffy.

24. Wenxina: Hey Scott. Other than the FCBD flipbook, can, or should we expect more ancillary projects in the vein of the MDHP shorts for Season 9/Angel & Faith?

Scott: We don’t have any plans for more short stories, actually—something might come up that we decide to do in DHP or something like that, but for the most part the stories will be told in the two monthlies, and in side miniseries under their own title.

25. Morphia: Hi Scott

In view of the fact that Faith is keen to get Angel to put his past behind him, and you say that we’re not likely to see them talking about Connor, can we hope to see any scenes where they discuss Angel’s past in some fashion?

I ask because I really enjoyed the panel in 5 where Faith says she can’t think why she gets called the slutty one given that she seems to be the only one who hasn’t slept with Spike, and Angel looks all guilty and embarrassed. That was fun, and because Mr Gage writes Faith’s dialogue so well, I would love to see more of her putting Angel’s past into perspective with her unique view on things.

Scott: Sorry, I misspoke if I said they’re not going to talk about Connor. And I got an email from someone that makes me think I really garbled my answer on that—I understand that Connor and Faith met in the Angel TV series, and I also know that there is a complicated situation around Connor’s history and what characters remember of it. We’re going to skip over all of that, because there is a very simple and obvious explanation: these things have been covered in conversations we the readers are not privvy to. If we were to write a conversation in which Angel explains to Faith that he has a son that she met but doesn’t remember meeting … this would be excessively boring, bad drama, inside baseball. So they’re not going to have that conversation. But as Chris has said, Connor is going to feature in the upcoming arc, and there will be a lot said dealing with Angel’s relationship with his son, said by Faith as well as other characters. I love what Chris has written about it so far, and I think it will please readers.

26. Maggie: Hi Scott,

Faith keeps drawing parallels between her and Angel — but their falls are actually quite different. Will that difference become part of the story? Or are all redemption stories more or less the same?

Scott: Yeah, their sins are very different, but I think the more important difference is their redemption and where they’re at now. You’re totally right, Maggie, absolutely, but the story is about the differences in where they’re at now. In the upcoming arc you get some of what you’re asking about, but it’s more about redemption than the sins themselves.

27. janas: Hello, Mr. Allie

This is the first time that I have submitted a question. I’m happy to know that Connor will be in London with Angel and Faith, and I can’t wait for him to show up again in the comics.

Is there a remote possibility of seeing Connor in San Francisco too? I remember that before Season 9 began, you have spoke of this and to me it was an incentive to follow the comics, but Mr. Andrew Chambliss said recently that for now there are no plans to bring Connor to Buffy, and that’s a disappointment.

My question is simple:
Will Buffy meet the son of Angel in Season 9?

Scott: No plans for that to happen. Possible, but the plans for Connor are all about his interaction with his father and the people he’s traveling with. Sorry. I think my earlier comment that you might be refering to was the potential in Season 9 that any character from either show can take on a role in either comic. There will be some mixing and matching, but maybe less than you’d like to see. One of the complaints with Season 8 was that we were dragging in too many supporting characters—in Season 9 we’re definitely only bringing in characters that are essential to the story being told.

Thanks, all, and happy new year—
S

This concludes the final Q&A session of 2011! Thank you all for your continued interests, and we hope to continue doing these in the new year, time and availability permitting, of course.
Happy New Year, and thanks again, Scott, for continuing to do these sessions with us!

Original Interview at Slayalive

*~

Behind Buffy Season 9: Angel and Faith from Comic Book Resources

3 January 2012 1 comment


BEHIND BUFFY SEASON 9: GAGE BUILDS BONDS IN “ANGEL AND FAITH”

by Shaun Manning, Staff Writer

Fri, December 23rd, 2011

For hundreds of years, before he was cursed with a soul, the vicious vampire Angelus committed countless atrocities, savage acts of torture and murder as he tore a bloody path through Europe, purely for fun. As Angel, however, he has struggled to atone for his sins and forge a hero’s path. Last year, his redemption was compromised by his role as the mystery villain Twilight during “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8,” in which Angel was manipulated toward a confrontation with his star-crossed lover that would end in tragedy. “Angel & Faith,” under the Season 9 family of titles with “Buffy,” teams Angel with another hero who has undergone a difficult journey, a rebellious Slayer who, with no claim to demonic possession or lack of soul, once betrayed her friends but now walks the righteous path.

The title’s first four-issue arc by writer Christos Gage and artistRebekah Isaac concluded in November, with both Angel & Faith facing hard and surprising choices. Comic Book Resources spoke with Gage to talk about the heroes’ new status quo, what comes next and how Harmony and Drusilla fit into it all.

In the climactic final chapter of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8,” Angel, possessed by the Twilight deity, murdered Buffy’s longtime friend and Watcher Giles, a crime which sent Angel into a catatonic state once he regained his senses. At the beginning of Season 9, though, Angel has regained a sense of purpose, deciding that Giles and his arcane knowledge are too dear to lose — so the vampire with a soul begins planning a resurrection. Enlisting Faith as backup, Angel searches out methods hinted at in the Watcher Files that may still operate in the magic-less world.

Over the course of the first story arc, “Live Through This,” Gage established an interesting status quo for the titular duo: Faith backing Angel up, even though she’s dead set against his plan, and Angel trusting Faith to stop him if he goes too far. Gage said that while this may be where things stand going into the second arc, “this is when we’re going to see that dynamic start to be tested, as well as explore the fact that Faith herself, even as far as she’s come, has some demons of her own.”

Despite Angel getting top billing in the title and being the driving force behind the series’ action, there is a sense that Faith is the true lead in “Angel & Faith.” Faith is the point-of-view character for narrative captions, for starters, and, despite the fact that Angel’s life spans centuries, she appears to be the level-headed adult in their relationship. Given Faith’s rogue history — and Angel’s — CBR asked Gage how readers are meant to view Angel’s grandiose plans, whether we should be rooting for him or whether the tension lies in waiting to see what disasters he provokes. “It’s my hope that readers look at Angel’s plans the same way Faith does…with trepidation,” Gage said. “You know he means well, but let’s face it, Angel’s good intentions have paved more than one road to Hell. But at the same time, don’t you kind of hope you’re wrong about it being a train wreck waiting to happen? That’s how Faith feels. She knows this is what Angel needs, so she’s sticking by him, helping him — and also keeping a watchful eye on things to make sure that if he ever goes too far, she’s there to stop him. She is definitely the level-headed adult in their relationship. It’s come full circle from when she had hit rock bottom and Angel was the one helping her.

“But it’s a valid point: can these two damaged people help each other without dragging each other — and themselves — down in the process?”

December’s issue #5 features guest artist Phil Noto and very special guest star Harmony, who had a big impact on human/vampire relations during “Buffy Season 8,” but hasn’t had much direct contact with the series’ leads in Season 8 or 9 so far. It was Harmony, of course, who brought vampires into the spotlight in her reality television program, winning a PR battle against the Slayers that has cast the bumpy-forehead crew in a positive light. Now, however, like any reality star, she’s paying the price of fame. “Harmony needs help from Angel & Faith in quashing an impending scandal that could threaten her status as the celebrity face of new human/vampire relations,” Gage told CBR. “As much as our heroes find Harmony vapid, shallow and annoying, they realize that making the volatile post-magic situation worse by threatening the standing of the world’s top vampire icon is not in anyone’s interest.

“Oh, and three words: Harmony sex tape.”

The Harmony issue also sees an appearance from Clem, the amiable floppy-eared demon. Asked what Clem has been up to since fans saw him last, Gage said he’s pretty much just soldiering on. “Well, when we last saw him, he was Harmony’s best friend and trusty sidekick, doing the heavy lifting for her with a smile on his face and a song in his heart. And that’s still what he’s up to!” As to why he wanted to tell a story with Clem, Gage replied, “Why wouldn’t I? He’s just so lovable!”

With Harmony and Clem on board, issue #5 looks to be more lighthearted fare than the first arc, a shift in tone reflected in a change in visual style as Phil Noto steps in to relieve series artist Rebekah Isaacs for the month. “Phil is a big fan of the Whedonverse and has built a strong fan following for his beautiful depictions of various Joss-created characters,” Gage said. “He’s also a brilliant talent who does a great job with the humor in this issue. Even Harmony’s dogs get loving attention in every panel!”

After this brief interlude, things get a little complex. Drusilla makes her return in issue #6, as does “a deadly, new kind of demon with ties to Giles’ past,” Gage told CBR. “Also, Faith’s father — who has never been shown before — returns to her life, and you can bet that’s not going to be a simple situation. But the ‘Daddy Issues’ referred to in the title also allude to the relationship between Drusilla and her sire, Angel. Drusilla knows him like few others do, and will reveal to readers a major part of Angel’s plan to resurrect Giles — a part that will potentially cause huge problems down the road.”

Gage also told fans to expect the unexpected from Drusilla in this arc. “I think fans will be very surprised by Dru. You’ll see her in a way you haven’t seen her before. That’s not hype, it’s fact!” he said. “And yes, she’s a great deal of fun to write.”

The solicitation text for #6 describes an illness that turns ordinary humans into killers, and readers have already seen that things work a bit differently in this post-magic world — what once may have been a miracle turns into an unspeakable horror when drained of mystical properties, with a demon blood panacaea Angel had sought in the opening arc being a clear example. As to the nature of this latest threat, Gage played things close to the vest. “There are different kinds of illnesses. That’s all I can say about that without giving too much away.”

Since Angel returned to Dark Horse’s Whedonverse in “Buffy Season 8,” not much has been seen of the extended supporting cast he developed over the five seasons of his own television show and which carried over into Angel’s comics run at IDW. But, Gage said, that is about to change. “In future stories, you will see Connor and at least one more old friend from the ‘Angel’ TV show,” the writer said, “as well as a couple of characters Joss had planned to use in the proposed ‘Ripper’ TV series but has been generous enough to let us play with instead!” (“Ripper” would have been a spinoff television series with Giles in the starring role.)

“I just want to say that I’m tremendously gratified — and I know the entire creative team feels the same way — by the wonderful response we’ve received for this book,” Gage said in closing. “I know how much these characters mean to people and how important it is that they be treated right. I am thankful and humbled by the fact that most readers seem to feel we are giving them their due. From a personal standpoint, I feel like I was still feeling my way during the first arc and didn’t really find my groove until issue 5, so I thank the readers for their kindness and patience and hope you agree that it only gets better from here!”

“Angel & Faith” #5 is on sale December 28.

Original Interview at Comic Book Resources

Slayalive Q&A with Rebekah Isaacs for Angel & Faith #4

8 December 2011 Leave a comment

Q&A with Rebekah Isaacs for ANGEL & FAITH #4

Hey all!

Rules are simple: Post ONE (1) question per member until I submit your questions to Rebekah. I will post a note to let you know when I send off questions to reopen the floor.

Keep it clean, keep it civil. Simple right? I’m accepting up to 20 questions this round.

This is a whole new era so be creative with your questions. Within reason, of course. No questions that are meant to simply further your agenda (especially in shipping!). Everything else is fair game, but be respectful of each other AND the artist who’s gracious enough to take your questions. Please also remember that Rebekah is the artist and not the writer; she may not be the best person to ask editorial or writerly questions.

Anyone who’s reading this and not a member, I’m accepting questions at wenxina[AT]slayalive.com. Feel free to send me your questions and I’ll add them to the queue with credit to you.

Alright… GO!

1. Bamph: Your art on Angel & Faith has been great. I really love it. Here’s my first question.

In the last issue of Buffy, we learned about the new species of vampires created by the loss of magic called zompires, as named by Xander. It’s been confirmed that we’ll also be seeing zompires in Angel & Faith. Have you drawn any yet and if you haven’t, are you looking forward to putting a distinct look on them when you do?

Rebekah: You can’t really tell, but I was asked to put one in the background of the street fight scene at the beginning of issue 2, but at that point the idea of how to make them look and act was pretty unclear.. I was asked to make them big and brutish. He’s the tall one with the slayer trying to strangle him from behind but mostly succeeding in taking a piggyback ride. I’m guessing the idea for how they would look and act changed a bit because Georges drew something far more vicious and feral, which I like. I wasn’t asked to draw them again until issue 8, I believe, which I just finished. I followed Georges’ lead on that one. I really liked what he did with the design and we need to keep them consistent. 

2. Morphia: Hi Rebekah

Your work is great. I really hope you get to draw Spike some day. I’d love to see your take on him. Now I’ve read the issue, I understand Angel’s weird fashion choices in the previous issue a little better.

My question is: you drew a really cool red-faced demon lady in issue 2. She hit Angel over the head with a barstool in the fight scene. I liked her a lot. Any chance you might use the character again?

Rebekah: Haha! You’re not the first I’ve heard say they enjoy seeing Angel getting the crap kicked out of him! Poor guy… You will enjoy the hell out of #7 then.  Your wish is my command; I will put her in the next scene she could feasibly make an appearance in. Won’t have a chance in issue 9 but but possibly in the third arc. Keep your eyes peeled!

3. FangedFourLover: What is your favorite aspect about Drusilla’s character and what’s your favorite aspect on drawing her?

Rebekah: I love how regal she is, even when she’s acting totally insane. That’s been my favorite part of drawing her, all her floaty, fairy-queen hand gestures and postures.

4. spuffyspangellover: What episodes do you use in reference to draw Drusilla from? Amazing art by the way. I would cry if you ever drew Spike haha.

Rebekah: They ran the gamut. Time was of the essence so I didn’t have a chance to rewatch many episodes, and mostly had to rely on screencaps, but one that I watched a particular scene from over and over was ‘Dear Boy’. Most of the screencaps were from Buffy episodes.

5. Moscow Watcher: Hey, Rebekah,

Amazing work, as usual! You’re spoiling us, getting us used to your brilliance!

Question: Was it in the script that on the panel where Angel asks Faith who he reminds of, there is a familiar photo of young!Giles? And – that there should be exactly one half of his body visible?

Rebekah: It wasn’t in the script, but putting the photo in view was a conscious decision on my part. The half-body thing was a coincidence, but possibly a happy one…

6. NickBridwell: Wow, crazy issue. You did some great art in this issue. I love the odes to Giles in Angel’s actions. I’m totally wigged out about the glasses thing. I don’t think a single fan is buying the glasses stuff, but hey..that’s for another time. My question: What character from Buffy or Angel would you most want to have the opportunity to draw in Angel and Faith? I’d love to see you draw Darla. Also, Wesley Wyndam Pryce is screaming for a comeback!

Rebekah: Haha, that’s okay! Faith is hardly buying it either. As for characters to draw in the future, Spike would be my first choice, but Wesley would be awesome. Darla will show up briefly in a flashback soon!

7. Wenxina: Hey Rebekah! Firstly, I’ll be receiving that splash page in the mail tomorrow! Color me excited (well, get Dan Jackson to do it… it’s a chartreuse-y hue)! Anyway, Angel-as-the-second-coming-of-Giles; how much did you reference Giles’ various mannerisms to get them down? I mean, some of the panels are totally Giles-y (e.g. the way Angel holds his glasses).

Rebekah: Cool! I’m glad you brought up Dan, because the look of this book owes so much to him. His colors tell just as much of the story as my lines do. He’s earned some mad props!

As for your question… his mannerisms are definitely intended to evoke Giles (luckily I got most of the reference when I was drawing Giles himself in #1 and 2) but the reason why should surprise you!

8. Bamph: The people who were mutated by The Mohra blood I found disturbing. Really disturbing but in a good way. It’s very impressive how the images of those victims who used the blood in the magic-free world really got under my skin. Great job on doing that. How did you come up with such a unsettling visual design for them?

Rebekah: Thanks! I’m glad it had the intended effect, as cruel as that seems to say! I have a weird fascination with malignant growths and all the many morbidly bizarre ways the human body can backfire on itself, so I guess the reference was in my head already. I went to the Mutter Museum in Philly not too long ago as well, and seeing tumors and malformations up-close and in person helped a lot with the designs. Mostly I just needed them to seem convincingly hopeless to make that last scene work, so I really needed to trap them completely in these growths. I made the growths cover most of their features but occasionally you might catch a glimpse of a formation that looks like an eye or nose or mouth could be buried underneath. That’s terrifying to me and I hoped it would be to readers. 

9. zamolxis: Hi Rebekah,

Any chance we got to see your tryouts with Buffy and Willow?

Rebekah: That’s for Dark Horse to decide, but I’m pretty sure they’re planning to release them at some point this season.

10. Moscow Watcher: Hey, it’s me again, trying to figure out some clues to future events. In issue 3, was it explicitly mentioned in the script that Angel touches Mohra’s dust (pieces?) with his hands after the demon bursts into something blue-ish?

Sorry for being too much into details, but I’m fascinated with current story and can’t stop thinking about repercussions of Angel’s actions.

Thank you for answering our questions. You rock!

Rebekah: That was my own addition, so if it ends up relating to future events it was unintentional. But I really appreciate your love of the details!

11. Wenxina: I met Yanick Paquette at Austin Comic Con this year (great guy, very charismatic and funny) and he was telling me how he had begun to do a lot of his drawing digitally because it was a great tool. The downside is of course, you don’t have originals to sell. Have you ever done any of your stuff digitally, or are you pretty ol’ skool when it comes to drawing? Is it something that you’ve considered switching too?

Rebekah: Ah, Yanick, what a charmer! He’s fantastic and his art is amazing whether digital or traditional. But personally I can’t get on board with digital art. There’s something about working with physical tools that feels really great. If I didn’t draw for a living I’d have to be a craftsperson of some kind, making just about anything by hand. I don’t think I’d ever feel that kind of satisfaction looking at a finished image on a screen.

12. Nathan: How much of the whole Angel channelling Giles storyline be drawn upon, or will it be finished in the next few issues? How will it impact Faith and Angel as they are now?

Rebekah: Hmm… can’t give too much away, but you certainly won’t be seeing the resolution to that plotline in the near future. And it’ll have a profound impact on A&F. Good or bad? That’s an answer for Christos to spill sometime! 

13. AndrewCrossett: Have you met any of the actors whose characters you’ve been drawing, or heard any feedback on whether they read the book and what they think of it?

Rebekah: I have! Juliet had very kind things to say about my interpretation of Dru by email, though I haven’t had the chance to meet her in person yet. I haven’t heard anything directly from Eliza or David, but Eliza was kind enough to retweet a few A&F #1 related things. I hope she enjoyed it if she had a chance to read it. It must be really bizarre to see a stranger’s interpretation of your face in panel after panel, though!

14. Bamph: Georges Jeanty did several homage covers to other famous comic book covers in Season 8 and it was just revealed a few weeks ago that he did one this season. His cover for the upcoming Buffy #6 is a homage to Tomb Of Dracula #10. Is there any chance we’ll see you do some homage covers for Angel & Faith?

Rebekah: It’s a possibility I’d like to explore in the second half of the series. We talked about doing a few homages to past Buffy covers in the beginning, but I declined because I wanted to establish my own voice in my first series of covers. Actually, just recently I suggested an homage to the Ziggy Stardust back album cover (the one where he’s standing in the red telephone booth), but it got nixed because the reference was so old editorial thought people might not get it. Any other Bowie fans out there wanna prove ’em wrong? I’m thinking about putting together a petition. Okay, maybe I’m just a BIT obsessed. As far as comic cover homages, maybe! I also really liked the Wolverine covers Marvel did a while back with homages to great painters. Readers can feel free to tweet or email me suggestions! (twitter.com/rebekahisaacs / rebekahisaacs@gmail.com

15. Morphia: Hi again, Rebekah

Thanks for answering my question. I’ll keep my eyes open for the red demon lady and will hope she doesn’t come back just to get killed. Also, for the record, I don’t hate Angel. I’m just very, very cross with him at the moment, which is one of the reasons why I enjoyed that panel so much.

I saw you say to one of the other posters that you’ll be drawing Darla in an upcoming flashback. That’s wonderful. I love Darla. She’s my favourite female character in the Buffyverse apart from Buffy herself. I hope there’ll be more flashbacks of Angel’s past so you get to draw her again (and Spike, hopefully).

My question is, given the series will have flashbacks not just of Angel’s past but of Giles’s (60s/70s, I suppose?) what resources do you use to research the periods in question?

Rebekah: Google images for the win, as usual. We’ll see Giles in his late school years soon, and I found some great references for English school uniforms from the late 60s/early 70s. Lots of stuff Angus Young would love. I’ve always had a thing for clothing from that period and all the over-the-top patterns, and even though the school uniforms didn’t allow for much personal flair, you’ll see I went a little nuts with one of the supervisor’s dress-shirts.

16. usagianddarien: I really love your work Rebekah I especially love the drawings of Angel “channeling” Giles.

My question is what advice would you give to a person who wants to get into the comic book drawing business?

Rebekah: Draw every day, everywhere you can, and focus on drawing sequential pages that build and show off your storytelling, not just character designs or pin-ups. That’s probably the number one mistake I see in amateur portfolios. Going to an art school with a specialty in sequential or comics art can help build your portfolio and provide industry contacts, but it’s not essential. You’ll have to do a lot more of the convention portfolio review circuit if you don’t, but it’s not that bad. To get hired you’ll need to show you can make everyday street scenes and talking-heads shots just as interesting as action scenes, and you gotta be able to draw backgrounds. Oh, and get fast, because even if you got that first job, there won’t be any more knocks on your door if you didn’t meet the deadline.

17. AndrewCrossett: You don’t seem to put as many “Easter eggs” in your pages as Georges does. Have you put any in yet that nobody picked up on?

Rebekah: Yeah, I think I’ve been so anxious about getting the basics of these pages right that I haven’t stopped to think about adding hidden details yet. There were a few, but I’m sure people have picked up on them by now; most notably Faith’s Pedroia jersey and the fire hydrant throwbacks in issues 3 and 4. I need to start thinking up some more. They won’t stay hidden too long, though, you guys are a sharp bunch! 

18. Sosa Lola: ‘ve really enjoyed the art in this issue. You’re doing a wonderful job! I love how you convey emotions well in the characters’ faces. I really felt Faith’s pain after she had to cut the victims’ heads with Angel. How hard is it to keep the facial features looking like the actors and having them express different kinds of emotions at the same time? How many times do you have to draw the character’s face to get the emotion right?

Rebekah: It is a little tough because you don’t want to just pick through screenshots and find an expression that matches what you’re looking for. It won’t end up looking very organic or natural. Getting the expression is really important to me, maybe even a little more important than getting the likeness spot on, because it’s far more relevant to telling a good story than having a photo-perfect likeness. So sometimes I choose to distort the likeness a bit to get the expression a little more extreme. I don’t have the benefit of moving images or an audio track, so I have to be a little less subtle in my expressions than the actors on the show, anyhow.

Most faces I can get right on the first time because I’ll drawing over my thumbnail sketch. I’ve had plenty of bad drawing days where I have to draw every face 3 or 4 times over though!

19. Wenxina: I’ve been studying the piece of original art I recently purchased from you and I’ve noticed a wide range of line weights. What tools do you use when you’re drawing/inking?

Rebekah: I use a regular mechanical pencil for drawing, nothing fancy. For inking I use a brush on organic shapes, which gives incomparable line variation and control — in issues 1 and 2 I used a Winsor & Newton #2 sable brush, but when all the cleaning and maintenance started to get too time-consuming, I looked into brush pens. Most of them can’t hold a point for long but my friend and fellow Dark Horse artist Ron Chan suggested Pentel’s Aquash, which is designed for holding water but can be used as an ink pen with a little patience. It holds an incredible point, and the lines look almost the same as a real brush. It works great for inking away from home during conventions or vacations, too. For straight lines I use Microns.

Q&A is now complete. Major danke to Rebekah for taking time out of her busy schedule to do this with us. Keep thinking up those questions as we’ll do another one at the end of the next arc!
Feel free to share this with the WWW, but just make sure to credit SlayAlive.
Thanks for your interest! 

Original Interview at Slayalive

Sci-Fi Bulletin Interview Christos Gage and Rebekah Issacs

6 December 2011 Leave a comment

interview: angel & faith: christos cage and rebekah issacs

In August this year writer Christos Gage and artist Rebekah Isaacs joined forces to bring readers the new Angel & Faith series from Dark Horse Comics. Following on from the events of Buffy Season 8 and running alongside Buffy Season 9, the new series sees Angel and Faith living together in London as they struggle with the death of Giles and the loss of all magic in the world.

Interview: Bernice Watson

Sci-Fi Bulletin: Angel and Faith are both characters who carry a certain emotional burden and are both looking to atone for past misdeeds. How does that affect the dynamic between them as partners? Why do you think they work so well as a team?

Christos Gage: I think they work for that very reason. They’ve each walked a mile in each other’s shoes. When Faith hit bottom, Angel was there to help her – he wouldn’t give up on her. Now the roles are reversed.

Rebekah Isaacs: They’re characters who I think would be friends even if they could hang it up in the fight of good vs. evil and just sit around and chill. They’re both dark-humoured, prone to brooding (Angel more often, of course), have trouble feeling accepted and comfortable in the world outside, and at this juncture in their lives, both have an extreme drive to make their previous wrongs right. Of course, that drive could be what gets them both in trouble in different ways, eventually…

Christos, when writing Angel and Faith, how do you balance keeping the characters recognisable from the television series while also allowing them to grow and develop?

CG: It’s hard to explain, it’s more an instinctual thing that comes from getting to know them after watching all the shows. And of course it doesn’t hurt that my editors have years of experience with these characters, so I feel confident they’ll tell me if I stray too far. And, of course, there’s Joss, who knows a thing or two about them and isn’t about to let me ruin his kids!

A lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans actually prefer Faith because she’s, in some ways, a more complex character than Buffy. Were you a Faith fan before you started working on Angel & Faith? What do you enjoy most about writing/drawing Faith?

CG: Well, as I’ve said before, until I was offered the job I hadn’t seen any of the shows! But after watching them all, I did indeed become a Faith fan. I think she has an incredible character arc; she’s probably grown more than any other character in the Buffy-verse. The episode in which she takes over Buffy’s body and sees what it’s like to have real friends, people who really love you, and ends up being compelled to save innocent people simply because it’s the right thing to do, is an amazing moment for her. I can certainly relate to someone who’s made mistakes in life and is trying to do better. I think that’s why people like Faith; it’s why I like writing her.

RI: I have to admit she’s grown on me a lot since I started working on the series. I certainly didn’t dislike her, but before I got the job I hadn’t gotten very far into Buffy, and Faith didn’t have quite as much dimension to her character as she does later in that show and in Angel. She was still very much leaning more towards villain than heroine at that point.

After finishing the shows and reading Brian K. Vaughan’s arc of Season 8, which I loved, I had a new appreciation for Faith. And the new things that are revealed about Faith’s past in Season 9 make her even more compelling. The new puzzle pieces are forming a seamless big picture of who Faith is for me, and I think long-time fans of the character will be really fulfilled as well.

Faith is very true to herself and comfortable with her powers whereas Angel is constantly striving to overcome his vampire nature. Is this dichotomy something that you play on when you’re writing them as a team?

CG: Definitely. In the very first arc, Faith is wrestling with the question of whether to use the Mohra blood to forcibly turn Angel human again, because she feels like he will never allow himself any peace as long as he’s a vampire. The difference in the way they feel about their abilities is an important part of their relationship.

Faith now finds herself watching out for a group of young English slayers who have been sort of cut loose and don’t quite know what to do with themselves. In the past Faith has resisted being a role-model but she just keeps getting leadership thrust upon her. How do you see Faith growing into a more adult role? How does her attitude to leadership differ from that of Buffy?

CG: Well, as Alasdair pointed out to Faith in issue #3, it’s Faith herself who has become the adult, simply by doing the responsible thing and looking out for others – whether she was doing it consciously or not, she’s made herself a leader. I think the difference between Faith and Buffy is that Buffy has always been told she is the “Chosen One,” so to some degree she has accepted the mantle of leadership…although one of the key parts of Buffy’s journey in Season 9 is looking past that and trying to figure out what she wants out of life. Faith, on the other hand, has always been treated as the “flawed” Slayer. (To be fair, she did a lot to bring that on herself.) So when people behave toward her as if she was a leader, it kind of throws her.

One of the many great things people are enjoying about this series is the way you have really made the characters your own, is it hard stepping into such an established universe, creatively?

RI: At first it can feel a little restrictive compared to say, superhero comics, because there is a very clearly established visual and aural guideline for how the characters move, act, and sound. But once you get a grasp on that, you can start to extrapolate on it in a way that still stays true to the character. That’s when it gets really fun because you know you’re adding your own small touch to a mythology that so many people care so much about. But it definitely took me a few months to feel like I really “owned” the characters. Luckily I had the excellent editorial team to help me out.

CG: I don’t want to make it sound like it’s easy, because it’s not, but the idea of working with established characters is something anyone who comes from the world of writing for TV is used to. My wife and I wrote for Law & Order SVU and Numbers and in both cases we were working with established, pre-existing characters. The same is true with Marvel and DC heroes. You have to be true to the characters as they exist, but at the same time think of new ways to explore who they are and see them develop… such as bringing in Faith’s father in our second arc, and seeing how that affects her.

Angel & Faith has a much darker feel than Buffy Season 9: it’s almost gothic noir at times. To what extent does the location, London, change the dynamic of this story from that of Buffy?

Christos Gage: Joss very much wanted London to be a character in the series. I’ve tried to make that happen as best I can, seeing as it’s been about 25 years since I’ve seen it! Fortunately, Rebekah just went, so that helps a lot.

Rebekah Isaacs: London is such an amazing, densely layered city that oozes with atmosphere. Just a few silhouettes of chimneyed rooftops alone is enough to lend a panel an eerie noir vibe. Obviously it’s a modern city and not every inch of the city is like that, but there’s still a lot of it! And even in the newer construction areas there are just so many nooks and areas shadows can hide in a night scene – perfect for a story that involves demon fight clubs and nefarious supernatural goings-on. I’m just striving to include as much of that as I can, and it’s an ongoing process to get my backgrounds up to snuff with reality. The photo reference I got on my trip this autumn has been invaluable. I wish I’d had it from the start of the series!

Angel’s goal is to find a way to bring back Giles but when Buffy was brought back at the beginning of Season 6 of the television series she was actually rather dismayed. Is this something that you see being raised in the story?

CG: Yes, definitely. I can’t say more without getting into spoiler territory.

Christos, your dialogue, particularly for Faith, is absolutely spot on. How much time did you spend watching the TV show before starting to script this series? Do you refer back to the show as you write?

CG: I watched all episodes of both Buffy and Angel over the course of about a year, so hopefully the voices are a bit instinctive at this point. I generally don’t refer back to the show nowadays unless I need to reference a specific episode or I’m bringing in a character I’m not used to writing. For example, when I wrote Harmony and Clem in issue #5, I watched several episodes with them over again so I could really get used to how they talk.

Rebekah, you’ve done an amazing job of capturing the look and body language of the characters. Is it more difficult work from an actor’s likeness than drawing directly from your own imagination? Did you spend a lot of time watching the shows to get it just right?

RI: Only at first, but once I got the general features down for the two main actors it wasn’t too difficult any more. When we introduce new characters, though, such as Drusilla in this next arc, there’s always a bit of a new learning curve for the first few pages or so. I did study the shows quite a bit at first, but haven’t much lately. I find I have a good register of others’ facial expressions, and I’m one of those people who unconsciously will mimic the other person’s expressions in a conversation (sometimes with awkward results) – but I think it helps with building a mental catalogue of how an actor emotes.

Rebekah, the Buffy universe has always been a melting pot of horror, comedy and drama, which is something you really capture in all your panels. When you’re designing the pages how do you plan all the little details that make the art so rich?

RI: I just try to keep the pages interesting for me to draw, with fun details, or a certain type of architecture I’ve been wanting to take a stab at, and I find that that translates to a page that’s interesting to read. I actually try to not plan too much beyond the basic compositions – if I have to sketch, draw, and ink the exact same lines they start to get boring, and that makes for a bland, static, or rushed page.

Faith has grown and changed an awful lot as a character since her introduction to the Buffy universe in Season 3. How do you see her continuing to change in the future?

CG: Answering that would give away what we’ve got in store!

It’s hard to imagine that Angel can really come back from what he did as Twilight even if he does bring Giles back from the dead. To what extent is his determination and desperation fuelled by the knowledge that his actions are very possibly unforgiveable?

CG: That’s kind of always been the case. I think the difference now is that he’s atoning not for what he did as Angelus but for what he did as himself…even when he wasn’t in control of himself as Twilight, he entered into that situation by choice, unlike when Darla sired him. I think his focus on Giles comes from the feeling that he killed a man who gave him every chance and forgave some horrible things, like Angelus killing Jenny Calendar. Angel feels like Giles is his ultimate victim, and if he can just bring him back, it’s a sign, however small, that his presence on Earth is not irredeemably and inevitably a bad thing.

The title, Live Through This, implies a level of powerlessness and a situation that just has to be endured. Buffy’s destruction of The Seed has left the magical community in an almost post-apocalyptic state and Angel is personally struggling to come to terms with his own part in those events. How do these events inform Angel & Faith?

CG: I think Season 9 is informed a great deal by the events of Season 8. Hopefully we can look ahead at the same time, though. Great upheaval almost always forces people to grow and change. For me “Live Through This” refers both to having to live through a traumatic event or series of events, as well as they idea of finding a reason to live …for instance, Angel’s reason for living, right now, is to bring Giles back. That’s what he’s living through, when he probably feels like he’d rather lie down and die.

In the case of a crossover between Buffy Season 9 and Angel & Faith, what would you enjoy most about the opportunity to use most of the original cast together?

CG: Getting to write the characters I don’t normally, like Xander and Spike and Buffy. All Joss’ characters have such distinctive voices, each one’s an adventure in themselves!

RI: Definitely Spike! (No offence to my boy Angel, I love them both equally but for different reasons of course!)

Original Interview at Scifi Bulletin

Christos Gage and Rebekah Issacs Update TFAW on Angel and Faith

6 December 2011 Leave a comment

Christos Gage and Rebekah Issacs Update Us on Angel and Faith

Shockwaves rocked the Buffy universe in August 2010 when it was announced that Angel, then at IDW Publishing, would return to Dark Horse Comics, home of Joss Whedon’s other properties, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Serenity, and Dollhouse. Some fans of IDW’s interpretation were wary, especially when they discovered that Angel would be paired with Slayer Faith Lehane instead of original show characters like Gunn, Illyria, and Connor–and after the events of Buffy Season 8, everyonewas wondering how Angel could possibly come back from killing fan-favorite Giles.

Fortunately, the creative team of writer Christos Gage (Avengers Academy) and artist Rebekah Isaacs (DV8) knocked it out of the park when Angel & Faith debuted in August 2011. Focusing on the close-yet-sometimes prickly relationship between Angel and Faith, relocating them to England, and giving Angel a shocking goal (bringing Giles back to life), Angel & Faith has been an action-packed exploration of two fascinating characters grappling with redemption, responsibility, and hope.

We caught up with Gage and Isaacs as part of Dark Horse Month. Check out our interview, below, and enjoy an exclusive three-page preview of Angel & Faith #4!

TFAW.com: We interviewed you both shortly after you were announced as the writer and artist for Angel & Faith. How do you feel after getting several issues under your belts?

Christos Gage: I feel better about each issue than the last. The downside is I feel like I didn’t do a very good job on the first few. I think I hit more of a comfort zone with #5. I think Rebekah started great and has only gotten better, and Dan (our colorist) has been aces from the word go. I’m really happy people seem to like it.

Rebekah Isaacs: Much less anxious about my two greatest worries at the time: likenesses and whether I’d be accepted by fans. Everyone I’ve met or heard from has been so welcoming and enthusiastic! I love meeting Buffy/Angel fans at cons now and hearing their viewpoints on the storyline.

FAW.com: What’s surprised you the most about taking on Angel & Faith?

RI: How many hardcore Faith fans there are out there! It’s great that we got to do this series because she’s a character that hasn’t really gotten her due until now. I love that we’ve been able to make those fans that have been waiting for a starring role for Faith since “No Future For You” happy.

CG: Honestly? That there haven’t been more people angry at me. I got a lot of warnings–mostly from the Whedonites themselves–that they are a passionate bunch. It was actually really sweet; it’s like they were saying, “Listen, I may be cursing you out later but please don’t take it personally.” But so far everyone’s seemed pretty pleased with the book and they’re being very kind to me.

TFAW.com: Christos, as you know, Angel has a lot of very dedicated, very vocal fans–many of whom weren’t happy about the prospect of an Angel comic without Gunn, Illyria, and the other regulars from the TV show and IDW comics. Do you think you’ve won them over?

CG: I don’t know, I hope so. As I’ve said before, Joss called dibs on Illyria pretty quick in the story summit; he has plans for her. And you will see various supporting characters pop up from time to time–Harmony, Clem, Drusilla, Connor. But this was always going to be a very Angel and Faith-focused book. I think the readers understand that, given where they are right now, their journey does not call for a big ensemble cast. And that Season 10 may well be a whole different thing.

TFAW.com: One thing that strikes me about your writing is how spot-on Angel and Faith’s voices are–they’re recognizable right off the bat without being overly hammy or catchphrase-y. How do you achieve that?

CG:Thanks! I just watch the shows. When you absorb 12 years of TV in a year or so, it leaves an impression, especially when the voices are as distinctive as Joss’ characters tend to be. I also have to give credit to editorial; they’ve had a lot of experience with these characters, and Scott will always tell me when Faith gets a little too talky, for instance, which is a risk when you take someone who’s mostly been a supporting character and make them a lead.

I’m flattered that people think I’m doing a good job and wish I could better articulate how I approach it; I guess it’s just something I’m used to. My wife and I have written TV before, and in TV, unless you create the show, your job is to identify and be true to voices someone else established. That’s all I’m doing here; it’s no different than doing it for Law & Order: SVU, for example. You pay close attention to what’s been done and try to do be true to it. I guess it’s a lot like, say, if your best friend said something that didn’t sound like them, you’d know it. If I write a line that doesn’t sound like Angel, it’s usually pretty glaring.

TFAW.com: I’m really loving the relationship between Angel and Faith right now. How do you feel about them as a duo?

CG: I think they’re great. These are two people who have been through a lot, and helped each other through a lot. They’re flawed, they’ve hurt people, they’ve hurt themselves . . . they’ve hit rock bottom, and they’ve worked hard to come back. And their roles in the relationship have almost come full circle–with Faith now the strong one–which I think is very cool.

TFAW.com: I’m sure many, many readers are wondering: are they going to become a romantic duo? Do you see that in their future?

CG: I’m gonna resort to the ever popular “keep reading!” But I do want to say that I really dig the fact that these are two attractive young heterosexual people of the opposite sex and yet their relationship is very deep, meaningful and complex while not having anything to do with sex and/or romance. Not to say that it couldn’t at some point, but even if it went there, that wouldn’t be the sum total of the relationship. Which I think shows how strong they are as characters . . . it’s not about “will they or won’t they.” There’s so much more to them.

TFAW.com: Faith’s in a really interesting place right now–in many ways, she has a lot of the things Buffy used to have: the support of Giles (in the form of most of his worldly possessions), a mentor relationship with the other Slayers, and a close relationship with Angel. Do you think Faith sees it that way?

CG: I think Faith sees it much less that way than other people might. She’s just now coming to grips with the idea of being the responsible one. But ultimately she’s not Buffy, and things are not going to unfold for Faith the way they would for her; Faith will make different choices, for good or ill.

TFAW.com: She’s also balancing a lot of lies and secrets–with the best of intentions, of course. Is this part of her growing up? Is it a mistake?

CG: Faith has always been someone who wouldn’t hesitate to play a little fast and loose with the truth. She’s a lot better than she used to be–as you mention, she wouldn’t lie to hurt people any more, or purely out of self-interest; it’s to help or protect others. But all lies create the potential for complications, and some may well be coming.

TFAW.com: Can Nadira and the other Slayers ever forgive Angel? What could he do to redeem himself in their eyes?

CG: That’s a good question. A very good question. Stay tuned.

TFAW.com: What about in his own eyes? Does Angel consider himself beyond redemption? What’s your opinion?

CG: I think Angel said at one point in his show that nothing he ever does can make up for what he did as Angelus . . . some acts are so horrible you can’t atone for them. So clearly, in that sense, Angel feels he is beyond redemption; I think he accepted that and planned to spend the rest of his existence doing good as a way to not erase, but maybe counterbalance the evil he had done. What’s different now is that he is trying to atone for things he did as Angel. He didn’t choose to be made a vampire; he did choose to be Twilight, even if he wasn’t always in total control of himself.

That’s why he’s so obsessive about bringing Giles back . . . it’s a microcosm of the wrong he’s done as Angel. For me, I think he is redeemable. Nothing will ever erase his wrongs, but if he dedicates himself to doing the right thing long enough, I think the scales can be balanced . . . they probably already have been. I think he’s a good man. But good luck convincing Angel of that.

TFAW.com: The huge game changer in the Buffy universe has been the destruction of magic, which keeps resulting in unexpected repercussions over and over again. How on earth can Angel think that NOW’S the right time to bring Giles back–something that was considered impossible before the Seed was destroyed?

CG: Well, Giles wasn’t dead before the Seed was destroyed. Angel just can’t live with the fact that he killed Giles . . . this man who meant everything to the woman he loves, this man who forgave him even after Angelus killed Jenny Calendar, who Giles loved. It doesn’t matter what’s going on in the world, Angel is going to try to bring him back, come hell or high water . . . or both. Is he thinking calmly and rationally? No. Does he have any reason at all to think he can actually do it? Yes . . . and wait until you see what that is.

TFAW.com: Rebekah, I’m loving your art more and more with each issue! How are you enjoying the job?

RI: It’s been amazing. Every issue new designs and set pieces to sink my teeth into–my favorites have been the demon fight club, Kurth, and Alastair’s house. I was so excited to find out I’d be drawing Drusilla, and I love Victorian clothing, so it was really fun to design a dress for her first scene. (Although Steve painted her in such a lovely gown for #7 that I had to copy it for her second change of clothes in that issue.) There’s always something surprising and challenging to keep me on my toes artistically in every issue.

TFAW.com: What’s the most difficult aspect of drawing Angel & Faith?

RI: I never thought I’d say this back in April, but the likenesses are no longer the biggest challenge. Lately it’s been making the environments rich and detailed enough to feel realistic, especially with the London street scenes. I found out there’s a hugeBuffy fanbase in the UK and I wanna make ‘em proud! When I visited London a few months ago I took tons of photo reference all around the city and I’ve been using it religiously. It’s time-consuming, but so worth it. Even if readers have never been to London, having unique details in backgrounds makes the whole experience feel more genuine.

TFAW.com: How often do you use references for likenesses now?

RI: I’ll sometimes pull up reference for covers, but for interiors I try to avoid it entirely now. I find it screws with my head after drawing the faces from memory for so long; I focus too much on the details and not enough on the big picture. I’m certainly still conscious of the eternal need for improvement, though. When I watch an episode, pass by our DVD shelves, or see a screencap online I take a second and examine it really closely and try to take away one feature that I can draw a little different to make it more accurate next time. It’s definitely easier for me now, but it’s ultimately up to the readers whether I’m getting it right!

TFAW.com: Any other characters/actors from the television show that you’re–ahem–practicing drawing right now?

RI: I’ve drawn about a dozen pages of Dru now, and I’m getting geared up to draw another major player from Angel’s life soon!

TFAW.com: The new “big bads,” Nash and Pearl, are gorgeous–and terrifying! How did you come up with the design for them?

RI: I was only told their powers and that they should look otherworldly or alien-like. I’m a huge Bowie fan and I immediately thought of the Thin White Duke era and his look in The Man Who Fell to Earth. For Pearl I used Lady Gaga and Karen O. from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs as a starting point. I have a weakness for clothes that I could never pull off myself, so I love designing outfits for these spoiled psychopaths who’ve styled themselves as demon royalty.

TFAW.com: There are a lot of fight scenes for you to draw in Angel & Faith. I really enjoy the sense of motion I get from your pages–how do you create that?

RI: Good karma and lots of desperate prayers before drawing them, I guess! I like to cheat a little by giving everyone hair and clothes that move with them. If only I could give Angel his old Angelus hair back . . .

TFAW.com: What’s been more difficult: drawing a comic set in another country, or drawing the demons?

RI: Definitely drawing a foreign country. When you live in a city, I think you get a sixth sense for how it feels; even if a scene is 90% right, there might be some essence that’s missing that only a native would pick up on. It’s like how a New Yorker can always tell when a movie’s set in NYC but shot in Toronto. Because I’ve never lived in London, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to convey that mood perfectly, but it’s been fun to try! Getting reference firsthand has been invaluable, though. I’d be totally lost if it was still just me and Google Images.

TFAW.com: What’s your process like for creating covers?

RI:I’ll email the editorial team and Chris, and they’ll suggest one or two concepts they’d like to see that tie into the issue. Sometimes it’s deliberately vague if the issue is still being revised, or we don’t want to reveal spoilers, but lately I’ve been drawing specific scenes. I’ll do three to five tiny sketches from those concepts, and they’ll vote on which one they like best. I get pencils revised before moving to inks because I’ll often think of new elements to add after the sketch stage.

TFAW.com: How have you liked working with Dark Horse?

RI: They’ve been so incredible. I think the only person who knows this universe better than these guys is Joss himself!

Our thanks to Christos and Rebekah for giving us some extra insight into Angel & Faith! You can find all of their Angel & Faith comics right here at TFAW and save 10-20%.

Original Interview at Things From Another World

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